Are Your Bad Habits Controlling Your Life?
It is a common misconception that addiction is only associated with substance abuse, such as drugs and alcohol. Contrarily, we can become grossly addicted to many other substances and experiences: these include (not mutually exclusive to) Love addiction, Gambling, Sport, Shopping, Internet, Pornography, Sex, Social media (Facebook, twitter, Instagram), Electronics and gadgets, Negative or Risky Behaviours to name a few.
In essence it is important to characterise and understand what we mean by addiction at Harley Street Psychology. When we engage in activities that prompt a surge of chemicals in our body, such as adrenaline and dopamine, these chemicals provide a temporary “high” which causes us to be destabilised within our bodies. Depending on our current circumstances we may be rational enough to know that the event was something enjoyable and have strong enough boundaries to not continually use the “substance” and carry on normally.
The problem arises when the experience with the substance or event has fuelled our life with a different sense/feeling/chemical which is removed from our sometimes stagnant lives. This is where we become open to having our perception changed for the worst. We begin to view the event/experience/substance favourably because of the new feelings it promotes which in-turn manifests into an addiction through our repetitive behaviour. Because we so easily connect with repetitive “bad” behaviour and thinking, we reinforce the new need and dependency on the substance which ultimately causes us to feel that we “need” it and cannot function “without it”.
Regardless of the type of addiction you feel you have, it will take a serious toll on your physical, and psychological wellbeing. If you feel you are in this repetitive cycle and are able to acknowledge to yourself that there is a problem–contact us on 0207 060 5257 immediately!
What is Addiction Counselling, Addiction Psychotherapy and Psychiatry?
Addiction counsellors can help you identify whether you have an addiction and may suggest a course of counselling sessions to help overcome it.
Therapy for addiction can help you to examine the underlying causes that precipitated the vicious cycle and identify any possible triggers that may lead to a relapse. It can also help you deal with any other psychological issues that may be attached to your addiction such as depression, low self-esteem or anxiety. Finally, it can guide those around you such as family and friends to better understand your addiction and learn how to support you during your recovery.
If your addiction is serious, you may also need to meet with a consultant psychiatrist to diagnose, monitor and treat any mental health issues arising from it, and they can refer you to a rehabilitation centre if a residential stay is recommended.
Breaking the Addiction Cycle – The Harley Street Psychology™ Method
Addictions most commonly are treated with the aid of a 12 step programme that essentially guarantees the success in overcoming the addiction to either drugs, drink, food, sex, love or any other potentially addictive substance or act. The concern here is that there is no pivotal research that indicates the success of such programmes and there have been three primary studies which have researched the efficacy of AA styled programmes, only to find that they are obsolete and have a higher relapse rate than a fully tailored and bespoke psycho-therapeutic intervention.
In lay mans terms, the process of AA style meetings provides a platform for people who are struggling with addictive behaviours to identify with the experiences and stories of “recovering addicts” so that they can gain perspective on their life experience with the aid of the “buddy” programme or “sponsor” to help through difficult periods when they want to give into their addiction.
Historically AA programs have introduced quite an evangelical style to the meetings with the hope that by introducing God or Godly ways into the meetings there can be a displacement of substances for something more spiritually fulfilling.
By no means is this a dismissal of this process and depending on the depth of belief of the person, this may work, however there is not enough evidence to point the substance abuser in the direction of actually learning how to change unhelpful behaviours and understand the need for such behaviours and choices.
Some thoughts to ponder when reaching the point of looking for help:
- you will naturally be using the substance to soothe a part of you that needs kindness and love. Possibly both of which you are unable to give yourself, which can translate into an inability to care for yourself.
- the substance abuse creates a perfect strategy always available to prevent you from dealing with the core issues in your life and making the necessary choices to adapt and change for the better.
- There are constant excuses being used to avoid taking responsibility for your actions and choices
- You will often sabotage any form of positive relationship and supplement it once again with the use of substances when things go wrong.
- There has to be a desire to change and be dedicated to your growth and have a willingness to look at the core pains you carry.
- There has to be a dedication and persistence in finding the root and core issue that is holding you in the repetitive cycle
At Harley Street Psychology™, our psychologists, psychotherapists, counsellors and psychiatrists work with the full range of addictions, addictive behaviours and thinking.
It takes 21 days biologically to create a new habit, and it takes 90 days of consistency to break a bad habit. This is a rule of thumb largely dependant on your ability to replace bad behaviours and thinking patterns consistently with new and more effective healthy ones. We will assess all the causes and negative thinking and behaving patterns contributing to the addiction. With this added insight and a bespoke plan will allow you once again a sense of freedom to break away from the hold that the addiction has on your life. Each session will focus on helping you gain the crucial self-understanding necessary to disarm the core need for the addiction. You will in essence recalibrate the way you relate to the addiction and the readjust the thinking patterns that keep you tied into the current negative belief system you have.
Accessing Addiction Counselling, Psychotherapy and Psychiatry Services at HarleyStreet Psychology™, London
Harley Street Psychology has an extensive network of therapists and inclusive of Specialist Psychiatrists offering addiction treatment.
Call us on 0207 060 5257 for a free consultation so we can acquire a better understanding of how we can help you overcome your struggle with addiction.
Further reading on addiction counselling:
- Internet Addiction: Laura Perdrew
- Addiction the brain disease: Dale Carison
- The Porn Addiction Cure:Paul Stephenson
- Rewired a new approach to addiction: Erica Spiegelman
Content is copyright of Harley Street Psychology™
A noted trend in teenage girls from the age of 14-17: Self Harm
A trend that seems to be developing among teenage girls between the ages of 14 – 17 is an inability to process their emotions, which leads them to use self-harm as a means of emotion regulation. What has been noticed is a distinct inability to digest anger and frustration, which needs a much-required outlet.
Society appears to be more focused on the mindfulness revolution, which aims at pacifying one’s over-thinking and tumultuous emotional states.
We are all for mindfulness practice and we benefit greatly from this practice. However, concern is raised when it seems that every problem we have is referred to a dose of mindfulness as a cure. It is clear that we all have the capacity to sit with uncomfortable feelings and emotions and because mindfulness is a practice, its effectiveness is in the practice. It does take some time before a sure level of tranquility is reached, but one does eventually reach this tranquil state when due diligence is applied.
There is a slight contradiction here, as becoming more mindful does allow us to regain a sense of control in life in general, however few of us have the patience to do so.
Moving off at a tangent, reference is made to the movie “Fight Club”. There is one scene in particular that is intriguing. The protagonist in the movie has had his first fight with Brad Pitt outside a bar. This scene depicts his internal sense of relief and tranquility. Obviously in physical pain from being punched in the face and doing the same to his imaginary friend (Brad Pitt), they sit together to discuss the chain of events just happened. We get an immediate sense that Edward Norton (Protagonist) needed to find an outlet for his anger. Grossly unorthodox in the manner in which it arises, he recognizes the immensity of his internal relief by being able to simply let this anger out in a fashion that general society would not condone.
By no means is this suggesting that young 14 – 17 year old girls go out and create a fight club. However this does suggest that alternate ways of embracing anger towards others needs to be considered before there is the inevitable shift towards self-blame and loathing.
Due to the process of conditioning through repetition, these young girls find themselves in a difficult cycle to break out of. On one level they have convinced themselves that it is easier to cut and self harm because the effect is almost immediate, in comparison to using traditional psychological tools. You will often hear the phrase that “it is easier to cut than to do a mindfulness exercise or an alternative method of distraction”.
Let me explain the anatomy of this type of belief system. At onset, you have an individual who is trying to make sense of the world. From social conditioning she establishes that it is inappropriate to display anger or to share this with peers and parents due to the inevitable reaction that there is no point in getting angry. So she feels dismissed and the emotions she feels are squashed. The girl therefore begins to internalize her anger instead of finding an external release. This is where the mind/body conflict begins to take a turn for the worse. Due to the immense emotional pressure and buildup she feels, there are two paths in which this can follow.
- The use of self-harming techniques, which induce a different yet distracting pain, which deters from her centering her focus on the emotional pain. With a bit of consistency, reinforced by a changing core belief system that she actually deserves this, convinces her to see this as a successful means of processing the underlying rage and emotional pain.
- The second path follows a more unconscious process based on the research of Dr Sano. Here the emotional buildup and rage needs to find some type of release but instead imbeds itself into the creation of a bodily ailment eg: lower back pain. The protection mechanism of the unconscious mind forces the body to embody this rage, which causes bodily pain instead of the body having to face emotional pain. This suggests that it is more excruciating to face emotional pain than the physical cutting.
You will find that avoidance and resistance to facing emotional pain is a common human condition, yet a source of great relief and healing. Part of the problem is allowing oneself the luxury of being guided to the site of pain. Secondly, when you are there, having the courage to sit and process and digest the range of pain behind the rage at the self and others.
Coming back to the trend first mentioned. I have identified that part of the problem is the lack of psycho-education in this age range. The harsh reality that they are being placed under more stress and demands from school, which detracts them from actually having a childhood. Moreover, schools teaching them little of value which could be used in the outside world i.e: how to realize one’s full potential and knowing how to achieve it; what is your meaning and purpose and how to instill and cultivate the necessary values to acquire greatness; how to deal with negative thinking and emotions.
Another part of the problem is related to the effects of the media and social contagion. Drawing on social contagion, awareness of self-harm has increased significantly over the years, partly through reference to self-harm in the media and popular culture. Related to the notion of social contagion, the internet is a social and cultural resource which can have a powerful impact on young people, and particularly vulnerable young people at risk of self-harm. For example, research conducted recently indicated that young people at risk of self-harm tended to be online for longer periods of time than other teenagers (Daine et al., 2013).
Although the internet may represent a preferred way of communicating with others for isolated adolescents, and the anonymous e-communication may be particularly appealing for those experiencing psychological difficulties and emotional distress, and for those who do not feel comfortable discussing their experiences of self harm offline, research has indicated there are several risks associated with this particular form of content and communication. For example, a recent review (Daine et al., 2013) indicated that one study reviewed highlighted that young people using internet forums appeared to normalise self-harm, and rather than talking about how to reduce self-harming behaviour, the study indicated the forums were used a way to swap tips on how to hide the problem and did not make the users feel any better. Therefore this suggests that some internet forums may actually reinforce self harming behaviour for some individuals, especially when the material is repeatedly accessed.
In addition, the review also indicated that one study highlighted that some users showed increased distress following a visit to an internet forum. Whilst some studies suggested that young people who went online to find out more about self-harm were exposed to violent imagery and then went on to self-harm themselves. Worryingly, the review concluded that internet use is linked with more violent methods of self-harm. Therefore, is it clearly important for the media to support vulnerable individuals, rather than promote the use of self-harm.
Related to the difficulties surrounding adolescence, identity formation is an extremely important development task during adolescence, and self-harming behaviour has been indicated to be a means of dealing with identity confusion (Claes, Luyckx, & Bijttebier, 2014). Related to the notion of identity and drawing on social identity theory (Brown, Eicher, & Petrie, 1986), a small minority of adolescents have been indicated to self harm in order to reinforce their group identity e.g. feel more like they are a part of the group (Young, Sproeber, Groschwitz, Preiss, & Plener, 2014). Moreover, drawing on the difficulties surrounding adolescence and fitting in with peers, and gaining acceptance from those around us, another part of the problem relates to invalidation or lack of acceptance. For example, a recent study indicated a high degree of peer invalidation predicted engagement in self harming behaviours in girls (Yen et al., 2014). This highlights a clear need to assess adolescents’ feelings of invalidation or lack of acceptance.
Furthermore, in line with the risk factors of other negative coping mechanisms, there are also various other risk factors for self-harm including a history of child abuse or trauma, adverse life events, bullying, family and peer conflict, low self-esteem and a persistent sense of hopelessness and poverty (Hawton & James, 2005). For example, bullying has been linked to a propensity to self harm during adolescence. One study found that children who were exposed to chronic bullying over a number of years at primary school were nearly five times more likely to self harm six to seven years later in adolescence (Lereya et al., 2013). This indicates bullying should also be considered as an important potential risk factor and that children should be provided with support to speak out about bullying and to not suffer in silence.
Given that self-harming behaviour is a serious public health concern which is increasing, particularly among younger girls aged 14-18, and since it is a risk factor for suicide attempts, there is a clear need for appropriate assessment and management of self-harm in young girls.
It is important for us to gain a greater understanding into the problems which are contributing to this trend, and to gain a greater understanding of the key risk factors of self-harm in order to inform existing interventions, and to develop new and effective treatment interventions which are both accessible and acceptable for girls engaging in self-harm. In addition, in order to reduce the risk of suicide, there should be good management of the care pathway of vulnerable individuals as they move from child and adolescent to adult services in order to ensure continuity of care.
Brown, B. B., Eicher, S. A., & Petrie, S. (1986). The importance of peer group (“crowd”) affiliation in adolescence. Journal of Adolescence, 9 (1), 73-96.
Claes, L., Luyckx, K., & Bijttebier, P. (2014). Non-suicidal self-injury in adolescents: Prevalence and associations with identity formation above and beyond depression. Personality and Individual Differences, 61-62, 101-104.
Daine, K., Hawton, K., Singaravelu, V., Stewart, A., Simkin, S., & Montgomery, P. (2013). The Power of the Web: A Systematic Review of Studies of the Influence of the Internet on Self-Harm and Suicide in Young People. PloS ONE, 8 (10), 1-6.
Hawton, K., & James, A. (2005). Suicide and deliberate self harm in young people. British Medical Journal, 330 (7496), 891-894
Lereya, S. T., Winsper, C., Heron, J., Lewis, G., Gunnell, D., Fisher, H. L., Wolke, D. (2013). Being bullied during childhood and the prospective pathways to self-harm in late adolescence. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 52 (6), 608-618.
Yen, S., Kuehn, K., Tezanos, K., Weinstock, L. M., Solomon, K., & Spirito, A. Perceived family and peer invalidation as predictors of adolescent suicidal behaviors and self-mutilation. [published online ahead of print September, 29, 2014]. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology.
Young, R., Sproeber, N., Groschwitz, R. C., Preiss, M., & Plener, P. L. (2014). Why alternative teenagers self-harm: exploring the link between non-suicidal self-injury, attempted suicide and adolescent identity. Biomedcentral Psychiatry, 14 (137), 1-14.
The Faces of Borderline Personality Disorder: A Misunderstood and Crippling Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) according to the DSMIV (Diagnostic tool to diagnose mental disorders) is characterized by a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships and self-image. It is characteristic of marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and presents in a variety of contexts. We at Harley Street Psychology have been working with sufferers of BPD since the start of the clinic and it is always fascinating how many therapists stay well clear of dealing with BPD. BPD is one of the most difficult of disorders within the personality disordered spectrum to treat, because once it has developed (and we don’t know the primary causes) it becomes engrained in the individual usually from a very early age and becomes further reconditioned for many years where it feels near impossible to get rid of the symptoms.
At Harley Street Psychology we view BPD as a “relational disorder” rather than following the specific criteria in diagnostic manuals. Many people don’t realize that in therapy the therapeutic relationship is key to assisting the individual through any difficult process and is vital in the overall effectiveness of the therapy. Think about it this way… if you didn’t like someone you wouldn’t want to open up to them right? The same applies to the therapeutic relationship. However, like any relationship there will always be issues that arise and these need to be ironed out with the therapist. By doing so a greater understanding of BPD can be achieved which is a transferable quality to other relationships.
Here is a list of some of the pervasive difficulties that someone with BPD may experience. The reason for which is to highlight the lived experience of such an individual to explain the severity of what one goes through-largely without assistance, unless privately funded.
There are extreme and frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Individuals with BPD have an acute fear of abandonment-this can develop in various forms, such as fear of rejection, not being good enough, real abandonment, and even playing the potential abandonment out in ones head.
Having Borderline Personality Disorder Can be Extremely Isolating
There is a historic pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation-this suggests that one second you may be idealized and the next second you may be rejected and devalued, and often made to feel devalued. This process of devaluation is often a good indicator of how devastated the BPD sufferer is on an emotional level and is a very extreme way of illustrating what it feels like to be them. Think about this as a means for the BPD sufferer to transfer their feelings onto you so you can get a glimpse of their suffering.
A debilitating experience in itself is developing an identity disturbance, such as the significant and persistent unstable self-image or sense of self. This forms a core to BPD, in that there is a drastic instability in self-image or sense of self that this may come across as being a severe experience of insecurity or sensitivity. However on an internal level, there is a sense of constant self-denigration and disgust with the self, where the person may desperately need reassurance but yet be suspicious of its deliverer.
According to diagnostic methods, impulsivity is noted in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g. spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). These experiences need to be seen as brief methods of self-soothing for the individual, however to the outsider, this is seen as erratic behavior which can be criticized rendering the BPD sufferer even more ashamed as a result.
In many cases of BPD, there is recurrent suicidal behavior, ideation, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior. The level of emotional pain and turmoil experienced is often transferred to such feelings, behaviors and thought processes as there is a desperation for some sense of soothing. Even the thought of suicide may be soothing but not necessarily wanting to be achieved ‘forever’, but often feeling that there is no other way out.
Emotional instability becomes a cornerstone to BPD; this is due to a significant reactivity of mood (i.e., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days). The emotional element of BPD is often a primary factor that may trigger various episodes and cause a great deal of distress for the individual. A tool I often use is to draw up a mood chart, and do this for a minimum of two months to see the relevant patterns within ones mood. By doing this, there is a preemptive response to mood, which may help in remaining one step ahead at all times.
Chronic feelings of emptiness shroud BPD. This is rooted in childhood development and the lack of a secure base to understand the process of self-soothing and emotional connectedness. Words like love, containments, happiness and emotional connectedness may all seem far removed from the mind of the individual with BPD. Largely this is because they do not trust that the person delivering these actions and words are genuine. This is one aspect within the therapeutic relationship that is addressed immediately and it is vital to look at the sabotages that the individual will create out of being uncomfortable when they experience the above wonderful emotions.
Inappropriate intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights). Anger, has become a particularly anti-social method of expressing oneself in society. Unfortunately, societal reactions are often focused on the individuals with “anger problems” seeking out assistance, whereas I believe that general society should also learn how to deal with anger and assisting the individual in diffusing the experience.
Anger provides us insight into the depth of pain an individual is experiencing at the point of eruption. The second we can identify with the depth of pain, within ourselves we are able to rationalize and feel less burdened by the person experiencing the angry outburst. In these situations, our fight or flight response is triggered and we tend to either react by mirroring the angry response, or running away from the acute confrontation. Learn to endure someone who displays angry outbursts and no doubt they will appreciate your attempts at doing so.
Transient, stress related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms. Unfortunately, due to the high level of sensitivity the BPD sufferer experiences, these dissociative symptoms may at many times cause the individual to cut off from the extreme emotional pain and resemble someone that has “switched off” the ignition and may become unaware of what is happening in their body and mind. This is why it is vital that Mindfulness practice is used as often as possible to maintain a centeredness and presentness.
Causes of BPD:
Although we have a diagnostic tool to diagnose someone with BPD, there is no substantial research into what causes BPD. There are a number of theories about what the causes may be, however many professionals subscribe to the biopsychosocial model of causation, in which they see the causes of BPD to be closely tied to biological, genetic, and social factors, and psychological factors. This suggests that there is no direct cause from any of the above mentioned factors, instead it is a complex and intertwined amalgam of all three factors.
BPD in our experience has often been misdiagnosed. We have had patients I’ve worked with arriving with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder all the way through to suggesting nothing was wrong.
Nonetheless, we have found that the greatest difficulty for people with BPD to overcome is creating a new relationship with themselves, where they do not sabotage every new good thing that comes into their lives because there is a deep-set core belief that they don’t deserve anything good in their lives.
This core belief can change, but what we have noticed is that there is a constant sense of not being good enough and fearing failure, and because they have been in this cycle of constant destruction, pain and heartache grow to become common sense and in a strange way a safety net of certainty. Many of us develop such strategies of coping with the uncertainty of life, but for people with BPD, uncertainty is filled with terror and panic and such high levels of anxiety that they can either crash into periods of depression or severe anxiety and panic attacks.
A key ingredient to overcoming BPD is by firstly establishing a good relationship with a therapist. Our advice is to find someone who fits the way you are and get a good feel for them. They need to be able to contain you enough in any phase or mood you find yourself in.
This is the responsibility of your therapist to work through this process with you and to help you overcome feelings and fears of abandonment.
We have had the privilege of working with some of the severest forms of BPD at Harley Street Psychology and observe the immense changes that a person goes through when they want to change their behavior and thinking. This is very much possible even though many professionals believe that if you have BPD there is no way of maintaining a sense of control and live a full and enriching life.
Statements like that go against everything we believe in, and if I had to accept that as gospel then that is like suggesting that some headaches can be treated whereas others cannot. At the end of the day it is a headache and yes some headaches can be worse than others, but there is always a way to get to the root of the problem and address core beliefs and ways or relating and functioning.
Not only is BPD difficult for others to relate to, but first and foremost, it is incredibly difficult for the person diagnosed with BPD to fully accept that this is what is wrong with them. There is initially a phase of fighting against this diagnosis, especially if it has been adequately diagnosed and not misdiagnosed, as is the case in many other situations.
In saying this, that is why it vital to find someone who has expertise in dealing with BPD and who is strong enough to contain ruptures and outbursts so that a solid structure can be achieved and maintained.
Besides being terrified of the actual BPD diagnosis, we can only imagine how terrifying it must be to work with a professional who feels incapable of ‘holding’ the person while they’re going through such emotional and cognitive turmoil. Please bear in mind that the therapist you will be working with is still a human being and is one who has flaws, so it is essential to work through any ruptures that may occur within the therapeutic relationship.
Learning to be authentic with ones feelings and thinking is a vital combination in adapting oneself to having BPD and face up to the many faces it can have present.
Mindfulness, a philosophy or mode of living life arose during the beginning of the 21st century in western minds, and is derived from Zen Buddhism often found in most eastern philosophies dating back centuries.
The practice is simple. By allowing thoughts to enter the mind, not judging them, and allowing them to exit as quickly as they came in. However, still a practice, and a practice means PRACTICE! The only way this process can become beneficial for us is to embrace the teachings and techniques and apply them on a daily basis with consistency. At Harley Street Psychology, we always speak about conditioning the mind in the same fashion as we do our muscles, and if we don’t allow these new ways to become habit to us, we become complacent and revert to old ways of being.
There are a number of very helpful mindfulness practices that are available, however what we instruct anyone attempting at taking up mindfulness is find a technique that is suitable and helpful to you-don’t follow every guru that has “the cure it all solution”, instead build on your own philosophy in life and test out many. Additional approaches which are especially helpful are: Schema therapy, Acceptance and commitment therapy, Existential therapy.
Cognitive Analytic Therapy:
Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) was first developed by Anthony Rile, and in my opinion is one of the most collaborative and embracing therapy models available to us. Founded on the given that everything in life has a beginning, middle and end, the structure of the therapy follows the same process.
CAT was primarily designed to deal with BPD and its challenges and besides there being a secure and agreed framework in which to practice it, it is very forgiving and collaborative with many other approaches.
A technique we use often and this can apply to anyone wanting to observe themselves closer is using a mood graph. The intention is noting twice a day (morning and evening) your mood and rating it (1-10) and identifying the precipitating event contributing to the mood. The intention of which is to be constantly checking in with yourself so that you are actively aware of your internal emotional state. This is often difficult for BPD sufferers, in that they often dissociate (almost like a day dream like state and feel detached from themselves) and are not conscious of their emotional and cognitive state.
Within BPD, there is often resentment towards a family member or someone close. In psychotherapy we call it the narcissistic wound carried by the individual. This is an emotional wound so painful that it is near impossible to reach the person on an emotional level, because when things become too painful the BPD sufferer will most often resort to deviating or avoiding the cause of emotional pain. In order for a beneficial relationship to develop for the patient there needs to be a close connection with explicit boundaries and clear expectations of ones needs and desires-this should be achieved and maintained on both
The Truth about developing your sexual style
Everything we read nowadays on sex is about how to achieve the best orgasm or how to make your girl squirt or how to be the best lover using a million and one quite useless positions. We don’t believe that the wheelbarrow position is going to induce a greater orgasm for your partner when you are struggling to hold her legs while thrusting into her from behind. What has happened to common sense in the bedroom? What has happened to tapping into our deepest desire for the person in front of us and needing to penetrate them and kiss them with all the vigor that we can muster? As human beings we complicate things… One would think that because we have been having sex for hundreds of years that we would’ve come to the realization that keeping it simple is going to make our lives a hell of a lot easier. In layman’s terms… every time we experience a difficulty in the bedroom, all be it the inability to orgasm, or stress induced erectile dysfunction, or a fear of intimacy we resort to catastrophising about a million and one different things which lead to the conclusion that “I must be experiencing some kind of sexual dysfunction”. Speaking solely about the psychology behind sex, we can assure you that there are far simpler means of becoming the better lover than just applying some techniques that you learn out of a book.
How do you do this you ask?
How do you expect that you going to learn about your body and mind if you don’t give yourself the time and space to explore and understand what both do in unison and separately?
A sportsman spends time with both his body and mind to reach a point of complete harmony and understanding through
To develop a sound sexual style, takes time and effort before a point of harmony can be reached. An example we often use related to men is questioning how they would feel if they lost their erection during sex. The most common answer is experiencing feelings of shame, embarrassment, potential worthlessness and just not being good enough or man enough. Our immediate reaction to their feelings is… Why punish yourself more when clearly there is a valid and appropriate reason for why a man loses his erection. The problem is, because most people are not in balance or harmony with their mind and body, there is an immediate disconnect with knowing where to isolate and locate the problem. Is it in the body or is it in the mind, and when all the catastrophic thinking begins then it becomes a vicious cycle of questioning yourself into a cycle of disrepair.
The mind body split…
The mind body split in the context of sex is based on a trap. Human beings are either living too much in their heads (cognitively) or in our bodies (emotionally). The key is finding a healthy balance where the mind and body are in synch so there is a connection which allows us to be constantly conscious of what is going on in our heads and in our bodies, which allows us to eventually feel more in control of our lives and thinking and feeling.
Making the connection…
As mentioned, we make things more complicated than is necessary in life and most of us are drawn to chaos and self-destruction, which stems from a confused point in our childhoods. Before we learn how to speak we are faced with a simple life… we are our emotions and we relate completely on an emotional level. This is the manner in which we relate and communicate and because we are children we are forgiven for this expected process. However, when we reach a particular age there is an expectation that communication moves from using our natural emotions (happiness, sadness, and anger) to becoming solely about using our linguistic ability to express our underlying feelings. What occurs next is where we “get it wrong”… We become language!
Language as the precursor to who we become…
This language becomes our primary means of expression and it becomes the overriding factor that dictates our success in a world where emotions have become obsolete. No longer is it permissible to express anger and sadness openly like a child does, instead we have to become calculated and fully present in controlling these emotions. When we apply this to our sexuality, we have moved so far away from using our bodies as the means of expression that we turn the volume up in our heads reinforcing our core beliefs (which more often than not are critical and judging) and reinforce this by the language we use.
So what is the solution…
Go back to basics! Begin by asking yourself the reasons why you are wanting to engage sexually with someone?
In essence, we all have the desire for closeness and intimacy and without question the incredible feeling of having a hot naked body pressed against us in its entirety.
There has to be two levels of practice. One level begins with the self and the other is shared in relation to another person. Masturbation is essential for men and women and this is no longer about simply having an orgasm, but instead focusing on the full range sensations and feelings that emerge for the individual. Many of us follow an obsolete belief that it is our partners responsibility to provide us the appropriate level of intimacy and sexual care (including orgasm). This is confusing and pressuring and it is very seldom where two novice lovers can learn from each other to the extent and depth of what I would classify as quality love making.
Know yourself and then learn to know your partner! That is a key to becoming more attuned to being a better lover and more connected with your sexuality. Being more present with yourself and knowing the full range of sexually charged emotions and thought patterns you use to get yourself to a point of arousal, will not only assist in inducing a more rapid state of connectedness and intimacy with your lover, but it will save you time focused on being frustrated with your body.
The orgasm is not the B-all and End-all of sex…
Tasting the breath of your lover… feeling the immensity of their skin against your body… the wondrous sensations emanating from your genitals sending delicious messages and tingles throughout your body is what sex is… The orgasm is just the bonus.
Reaching the point of mind and body alignment, the whole experience of having sex becomes a longer, and more enjoyable process where there is a constant feeling of connectedness with your lover because nothing else matters other than being penetrated or penetrating.
To Do List…
- Do understand the role of your breath when masturbating and having sex
- Do allow yourself to cum whenever your body wants to (early or delayed)
- Do bring yourself to be completely present with your lover through being connected to what your body is doing at all times.
- Do not criticize or force yourself to move away from distracting thoughts because this will make the thoughts more intense–instead bring yourself back to your breath and connectedness with your lover.
- Allow your body to be fluid and be attracted to any area of his or her body that arouses you.
- Don’t be afraid to kiss and caress any area of their body or be afraid of allowing your lover to kiss and caress any area of your own body. By having understood the full range of feelings attached to your beautiful body, each kiss will represent something new and wondrous in your sexual encounter.
- Do induce a sense of intimacy and intenseness by looking deep into your lover’s eyes, or allow yourself to be captivated by the glorious feelings in your body by closing your eyes.
Learn where each-others limitations are and see how far you can develop a level of trust in one another to push your boundaries
The Art of Attractiveness
The word “attractive” always makes me think of classic pinups and beauty queens, but when I really enquire into the word, it holds far more essence and depth to the point where each and every individual on this planet can embrace this one word and change their lives significantly. Not only will this induce change, but lead you towards manifesting abundance in your life.
I believe that one of the goals in this life is to become a more attractive person. What this doesn’t mean, is making the word sound superficial and focus simply on looks… Essentially looks fade and we all age, whereas attractiveness transcends all superficialities and is timeless.
So what makes YOU attractive?
I have named a few categories which I feel are necessary in making you more attractive.
We have all been conditioned to believe we have one personality type and this is something was we have to live with for the rest of our lives. I believe that because we are social animals and we have learned mostly everything through socialisation, our personalities are one such example. What we have been shown (usually by a person who is a secure base for us), is to believe that we have strengths and weaknesses and because there is no “handbook for parents”, our folks just go on instinct and advice and attempt at equipping us with the best tools for living in a quite tricky and at times dangerous world. What happens in this instance is that they strengthen and reinforce our qualities or ‘natural’ abilities instead of focusing on our weaknesses and assisting us into working on our shortcomings to become well rounded individuals. This aim for balance in our personality can be achieved by anyone willing to work on their weaknesses. I guarantee you, spending half an hour a day on personal development will help you achieve this. ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND: that the reason why we go back to using old behaviours is because we haven’t invested enough time at introducing new behaviours and thinking patterns for them to become second nature and ultimately becoming muscle memory.
I absolutely love fashion. I love the fact that the canvas that we are adorning with beautiful things is the human body. Its fascinating to see how people use this either to their advantage in the game of attractiveness or decide to opt out completely (usually because they need some education here too). Style is something that needs to be worked on, to the point of knowing how to dress your body and achieve a look that you feel confident in, which represents your personality. Remember: style is an expression of individualism mixed with charisma, whereas fashion is something that comes after style.
Impeccable manners have historically been a sign of good breeding. Pease forgive the quite bourgeois statement, but this is true in my opinion. Manners are not prescribed only for the rich. On the contrary, good manners should be upheld in a public and personal space at all times. This should be a representation of who you are as a human being. If you feel this is a skill you have not mastered, DO SO! This is not meant to inflate the go and make you sound pompous but instead the intention is to enhance the individual to flow with grace and uphold a poise of absolute attractiveness to others around them.
The general use of the word applies to ones ability to adapt themselves and their behaviour to the conventional requirements of society or a particular environment. This is an art unto itself. The ability to read your environment and the people in it allows you greater access and opportunity in being completely present in the experience and interaction. This can only play to your advantage, as you will experience complete acceptance from others and be remembered as being flexible enough to adapt to any situation. Ones relational ability is a key ingredient to being successful in this world. Take note of your persona, style, thinking and manners of being and adapt them where necessary. In strengthening each skill and mode of relating you will develop yourself into a fully rounded and complete individual.
Every individual on this planet has a choice. And with every choice comes a set of consequences of which we need to take responsibility for. Although there are certain events in this world that we cannot control (e.g. Sudden Death), we always have a choice in how we want to relate to the event. For a moment think what our world would be like if we were all held accountable for all the transgressions that each and every individual in the world made… if that is not enough of a deterrent, think that each and every time you did something morally wrong the closest person to you would be beaten or caused severe harm… No doubt this would make you think twice about doing anything other than leaving a person in a better off position than when you met them last! Making yourself accountable creates an inevitable situation where you will grow immensely on five levels: spiritually, physically, emotionally, financially and socially.
Respect begins with oneself. Unfortunately many of us do not respect ourselves and we develop an underlying belief that we are DESERVING of all the heartache and pain that is inflicted in our lives. The essence of respect is founded on knowing how to soothe and be kind to oneself. Don’t fool yourself… This is not a process of being wrapped in cotton-wool, instead this is knowing and feeling exactly what is needed in your life at that particular point. If you need more stringent boundaries you know how to solidify them or activate strategies to keep you contained, all the way to knowing how to spoil yourself with kindness and goodness when you need it the most. Respect begins with the self and is then applied to others.
Instilling appreciation in your life is one of the most simplistic yet most effective means of creating abundance and converting yourself into an attractive individual. Start each morning the second you wake up with the phrase “thank you for being alive”… Open those curtains and regardless of what the weather is like, take a few minutes to watch in marvel at the magnificence that is our world. Rain or shine this doesn’t matter, the essence of the process is finding the beauty in everything. There is an opportunity to do this in every scenario, because part of this process is learning how to appreciate that even the worst case scenarios have been placed in our paths for us to learn something very significant and life changing. Embrace everything wholeheartedly and we then learn how to face both pleasure and pain in a balanced way.
Being in the moment:
When we live in the past we are prone to depression, when we live in the future we induce anxiety and when we live our lives in the present we are at peace. A motto to live by on many levels, but the most important part is realising that one of the hardest yet most life changing experiences is being able to live in the moment in your entirety. Buddhist monks don’t practice for years because the process is simple, but practice with the intention of reconditioning themselves with the belief (developed from their realisation) that they can be completely in the moment and nothing else matters other than the experience they are having.
As a therapist I am often asked about forgiveness and the mechanism of forgiveness. Please do bear in mind that there is a massive difference between someone being out right stupid in remaining in a situation because you have forgiven their partner/family member/ friend for the transgression or event that has caused you harm, Versus the belief that because you have forgiven them it means you have to stay in the difficult situation. It is essential in being able to trust that YOU have made the best decision for yourself. Forgiveness is an art of letting a painful event go which takes us off the metaphorical hook that often keeps us stuck. We want justice when we are hurt by another, we want soothing and we want things to be made better… Usually from the person that has caused us harm.
I have hurt and been hurt by my own actions and the actions of others and the experience of being hurt is never nice to encounter. But one thing I know for sure that the worst thing I can do is hold on to my pain and resentment and not allow myself to move on. Wish the person well with love and kindness. This is especially difficult when the person has hurt us to the point of wanting to throttle them… Metaphorically that is. MEDITATE on your ability to forgive and embrace techniques like loving kindness meditation to assist you with this, as it can be rather repulsive to meet someone with a well of resentment and bitterness towards others.
I think of boundaries as being particularly applicable to others and in relation to oneself. If we have developed a solid set of boundaries we always know where we stand in relation to others and ourselves, but more importantly, if we are transparent with these boundaries, others very seldom find themselves in conflict with you. Instead what begins to happen, is that you’ve provided others a key bit of information in knowing how to get on with you and engage more intimately. This makes one immensely attractive because there are no longer any games played and if something seems obscure, it can always be clarified because the person with a thought-out set of boundaries will be able to explain themselves and relate in a more effective manner.
Reflect on how your boundaries are and how they differ in each and every context, because, in essence we are not the same in every context and we change, adapt ourselves and often hide who we really are.
Compatibility Issues Are Key To A Successful Relationship
Compatibility is important in any successful relationship. This is not to say that you and your partner have to like all the same things and be exactly alike. It is not a matter of having someone that is like a mirror image of yourself to share your time with. In fact, if this were true, there would be issues from the start and the relationship would be doomed to failure.
You want to find a person that enjoys some of the same activities that you do. If you both like completely different things, there is nothing for you to share when you spend time together. It makes the time strained for one person or the other. It also creates uneasiness and can create unhappiness in the end. This will result in the end of your relationship. It is perfectly acceptable to like different things and have a successful relationship. However, you cannot be completely opposite. There has to be some common ground so that you have things to do during your time together.
You will want a person that shares some characteristics with you. Of course you want them to have their own personality and be their own person. The differences are important for success. You will get bored if you are both too much alike. You will also have conflict between yourselves when you get comfortable with each other. There is nothing to add to the relationship. You both exist as one. You have to have some difference to discuss and add spice.
It is important that people in relationships have similar ideals relating to life and events in it. If you are religious, you would want to be with someone that shares religious values. If you have a desire to have a family, then you would want to be with a partner that also has a desire for family. In regards to life ideals, this is where compatibility is a must. There is nothing like finding a person and falling in love with them. You feel that you are destined to be together. Then, you decide to move your relationship forward.
You have your idea of how things are going to be. Your partner all of a sudden crushes your hopes and dreams. They tell you that they do not want children or that they are not interested in the same things that you are. This will bring about a quick end to the relationship and can leave you both devastated. You could also have feelings of resentment or betrayal toward the other person. It becomes a bad situation for everyone involved.
The best thing that you can do when dating is to find someone that is compatible with you. Talk to them about what you like. If there is something that you are completely against, make sure that they know that from the beginning. Tell them what you are looking for and what your ideal match would be like. Talk about characteristics and personality traits. All of these things are important and can help you have a successful relationship.